It was in 1927 that one of Gloucester’s Italian-American fishing captains, Savatore Favazza, had a life-sized statue of St. Peter enshrined in the heart of the Fort neighborhood.
In weeks and months that followed, local fishermen and their families began to pray before this image of the patron saint of the fishermen. And the wives and mothers of Gloucester’s fishermen began planning a religious procession revolving around the statue to be held annually on June 29 – the Feast of St. Peter.
That annual procession grew over the next four years into a day-long demonstration of faith to the protector of all fishermen. And in 1931, the women sought their husbands’ and sons’ help in making the arrangements for the Fiesta as its scope had continued to grow. And residents agreed to form a committee to coordinate the annual St. Peter’s Fiesta into a three-day observance.
More than 80 years later, St. Peter’s Fiesta is still going strong. And what has long been a five-day celebration kicks off this Wednesday at St. Peter’s Square.
Part celebration and entertainment, part fun and games, and partly based around unique athletic competitions like seine boat races and, yes, Gloucester’s famed Greasy Pole Walk, the Fiesta remains rooted in a religious celebration offering prayers to St. Peter.
In fact, while opening of the carnival and celebrations at St. Peter’s Square doesn’t come until Wednesday evening, Fiesta has technically already been running for a week, with the nine-day Novena of prayer heading into its final two days tonight and Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the American Legion Hall on Washington Street.
As always, Fiesta will conclude next Sunday with the Outdoor Mass to St. Peter on the main altar, the Procession of St. Peter through Gloucester’s downtown streets, and the Blessing of the Fleet next Sunday afternoon.
But from religious tributes to family entertainment and fun, St. Peter’s Fiesta truly has something for everyone. Here’s the schedule of what’s on in store this week.